2018 is going to be a big year for Scotland Women in Technology (SWiT); we will be hosting our second national awards, developing partnerships with secondary schools across Scotland and officially becoming a charity. Our work will focus on championing, celebrating and investing in the women in technology today and the many more we hope will be in the sector tomorrow. This is why the theme for International Women’s Day this year was; “press for progress” was so meaningful to us.
To mark the occasion we hosted simultaneous events in Edinburgh and Glasgow with a sold-out audience coming to hear from women finalists from our 2017 awards and role models from the tech sector. These events matter because they give us the space to change the narrative in technology in Scotland by showcasing the women already there and challenging those in the audience to play their role in making technology a place where women not only aspire to work, but flourish and contribute to the potentially world-leading advancements happening on our doorsteps.
During the events one thing was clear; women are passionate both about tech in Scotland but also about gender equality within tech. In Edinburgh, we heard from Talat Yaqoob, Director at Equate Scotland about the need to press for progress as women seeking opportunities but also the responsibility of the industry to press for progress itself by creating such opportunities.
Inspiring Female Speakers
We heard from Ilana Munkton from Skyscanner about imposter syndrome and how being nominated for one of our awards made her more confident about her work and why it is so important to champion women around us. Finally, we heard from Jude McCorry of Data Lab Scotland who reminded us that we cannot do it all ourselves and celebrated those who are the supporters of women, cheerleading them to progress in their roles.
At our Glasgow event, we hosted a stellar panel of inspirational senior leaders in their field of technology. Sheila Flavell, COO of FDM Group shared her career journey and stated that gender parity is not a nice to have, it’s the key to successful business. Jeanette Forbes, CEO of PCL Group and Wendy Pring, Managing Director of KCP shared past experiences of breaking through the barriers put in place by gender stereotypes and proving that women have just as much of a role to play in technology as men.
Innovation Being Led by Women
For us, International Women’s Day was a platform to engage even more people in our aims and vision, but we press for progress every day for women in our sector and the coming generation. Right now there are only 18% women working in our sector, and we want to make this a statistic of the past. We want to see rapid increases and we know to do this we need to take a multifaceted approach; by working with schools to encourage our young people to want a career in this industry, by celebrating the women who are making waves right now and by investing in those who are figuring out their next step through small grants for training and development.
Technology offers countless opportunities, some of which we have yet to realise, but that realisation can only come if we have enough people working at the cutting edge of innovation across Scotland. At SWiT, we are dedicated to making sure this innovation is led by women too and benefits from the talents and ambitions they have to offer.